When the Boston Blades announced that they were hiring legendary NCAA coach Digit Murphy (formerly of Brown University), it sent a message throughout the realm of women’s hockey that the Canadian Women’s Hockey League is ready to truly become the greatest women’s league in the world. The magnitude of such an announcement would be the equivalent of Mike Krzyzewski (the Duke University basketball coach) coaching the Los Angeles Lakers, or Bobby Bowden (the former Florida State football coach) joining the Dallas Cowboys.
While the rivalry (and mutual respect) between the Boston Blades and the Montreal Stars is not as visceral as the Boston Bruins – Montreal Canadiens rivalry in the NHL, Murphy gives the Blades the opportunity to usurp the Stars grip on the Clarkson Cup sooner, rather than later. In a draft that saw the only US based franchise acquire Hilary Knight, one of the most talented players in the world, 2012 NCAA Frozen Four champions Anne Schleper and Jen Schoullis, plus the greatest backstop in Providence Friars history, Genevieve Lacasse, Murphy is the glue that will bring them together as a cohesive unit, ready to eradicate any obstacles.
A superstar at Cornell long before Rebecca Johnston, Brianne Jenner or Catherine White, Murphy proved to be just as prolific as a player. With 213 career points, the four-time All-Ivy selection has the honour of having the Cornell women’s hockey Player of the Year Award named after her. The mother of six, Murphy can proudly boast of seven Olympians having played for her (similar to Tommy Lasorda of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball club having coached nine Rookies of the Year), and a Patti Kazmaier Award winner in Ali Brewer.
As the first women’s coach in NCAA history to reach the 200 and 300 win plateau, respectively, Murphy is in a great position to become the first US born coach in CWHL history to obtain 100 career victories. Her ongoing involvement with USA Hockey is helping to foster the next generation of American hockey heroes, while ensuring that there will be a place in the United States Hockey Hall of Fame waiting for her.
Signifying the relevance and importance of the Title IX legislation, it is fitting that with the 40th Anniversary of the legislation, she takes the helm of the Blades. In 1972, the Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup, and 2012 may signify the beginning of a golden age for Boston women’s hockey with Murphy at the helm. With Boston’s reputation as a city of champions, a Clarkson Cup team would add great prestige to the city’s sporting prowess while enriching the history of women’s sports in New England.
While Murphy has a silver medal from her stint as an assistant coach with the US national team at the 1994 IIHF Women’s Worlds, and a second place finish at the 2002 NCAA Frozen Four, the Blades offer her a superlative opportunity to claim a richly deserved championship – the Clarkson Cup, the most coveted title in women’s hockey.